Let’s Dance!

Dancing.sm

After crossing the Red Sea and being delivered from your enemies, what would YOU want to do?  A seven year old in my Bible class answered, “I would do this!” and then proceeded to dance around our classroom clearly demonstrating pure joy.

Sometimes the illustrations I’ve selected and the scripts from which I read simply pale in comparison to the spontaneous responses of children who hear about what God has done.

Over a span of about a month we had journeyed along with Moses and the Hebrews and felt the pain of their suffering in Egyptian bondage.  We had seen God at work through the ten plagues.  We  worked our way through the emotional experience of the night when the angel of death passed over.  We trembled as we crossed through the Red sea on dry land with great walls of water on either side of us and the enemy right on our heels.

Now, after reviewing these events one more time, I asked the children in our Bible class to imagine being a Hebrew that day and looking back over the water of the Red Sea.  I asked them to imagine the feeling of knowing that God was so strong and loved us so much that he had conquered our enemies and gotten us out of Egypt.  My question “What would you feel like doing?” was a rhetorical question so I was simply floored when this seven year old spontaneously responded in exactly the way the Hebrews did!

Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them:  ‘Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted.  Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.’”  Exodus 15:20-21, NIV

At that point I put other activities aside and we all did just what the Hebrews had done.  We danced in praise to God for what he had done. Never mind that we were in an upstairs room and the adults in the Bible class below us thought I had possibly lost control of my class.  (Never mind that I probably DID lose control over them for just a few moments).  Never mind that the kids danced much better than the teacher.

The fact is that we participated together in some of the most “Biblical moments” I had experienced in quite some time.

The children went on the demonstrate dance moves depicting the plagues and the Passover and the crossing through the sea.  Then, after what turned out to be a rather morbid rendition of the annihilation of Pharaoh and his army, I drew the children back in together and we participated in some quieter activities.

Once again, I thank God that I have the honour of sharing His Word with children and that so often the children become my teachers.

More ideas for teaching using movement and dance

Movement and Dance

Marble Painting a Burning Bush

Marble Painting Complete

The children in our mixed-aged Bible class last Sunday created some awesome pictures using marbles and paints.  The lesson for the day was about when the Lord spoke to Moses from a Burning Bush 

We talked about how God was concerned about the suffering of his people and was giving Moses the important job of rescuing them.  After the lesson we gathered our supplies and made these lovely pictures.  Younger children needed more help and the older ones were able to do each step on their own.  Of course, the best part was being able to chat about the story as we worked on the craft!

Supplies

  • A baking pan or shallow box with sides (one for each child or take turns)
  • A large paper cut to the size of the bottom of the pan or box
  • Crayons
  • Paints in fire colours like red, yellow, orange, brown and black (tempera or acrylic works well)
  • Marbles (heavy ones work better and we had 3 per child)
  • Tape
  • Damp paper towels or items of choice for clean-up

Method

  1. Children draw a free-style bush on the paper using the crayons.  This is the best time to write names or titles on the drawings, too.
  2. Place the paper in the tray and secure the edges with a few pieces of tape.
  3. Sparingly dot the paper with various colours of paint (thick globs don’t work).
  4. Place the marbles on the surface of the paper and move the trays around slowly in a rolling or gentle wave-like motion.  As the marbles roll around they will pick up paint and distribute it over the paper.
  5. Remove the marbles and hang the pictures to dry.

Other Stories for this Craft

Use this same method and different colours of paint to create effects.  Generally, the student will draw the main picture and then use the paints to create the effect.  Alternatively, you could provide a printed colour sheet and then have the children create the paint effect over it.

  • Wind using white and a little black on gray paper.
    • Sermon at Pentecost  (Draw the people or steps of the colonnade and then create the wind with paint)
  • Mood or Feeling using multi-colours on coloured or black paper.  This is more abstract but can be very effective.
  • Plants using green and a few dots for flowers.
  • Light using white or light yellow on black paper.  Fill the page with the colours of light.  Add some glow in the dark paint for fun.
  • Fire and Brimstone using red, yellow, orange or just use yellow and white with a little red to highlight the brimstone.  Draw the city first and then create fire and brimstone with paint.
  • Hair using brown or black.  Draw Samson’s face first and then create the hair with paint.

How to Use on Any Story

Create a frame around any verse or picture by taping a paper over the centre of the paper (where the words are written) and only leave a blank space around the edges of the paper exposed.  Once the painting is complete then remove the paper.

Marble Painting Pin

 

Experiencing God’s Holiness

2016-02-07 09.43.51

What does “holiness” mean to a child who is five years old?  God’s holiness is an extremely important theme running throughout the entire Bible and I believe even very young children can experience how special God is.

I’ve recently had an opportunity to teach in a large room so I decided to dedicate one area of the room as a special place where, each week, we sit for a few minutes and talk about how special God really is.  I’ve loved how this has brought a new depth to what we are learning and I would encourage you to give this a try sometimes.

 

A Holy Space

I didn’t buy anything to set this space up and, with a little imagination, you will be able to find “special” items of your own.  I drug in a coffee table from another room.  I covered it with some shiny wrapping paper and placed chairs around it.  Draping some old sheets and fabric over a room divider formed a small “wall” to make the space cozy.  Someone had left some “gold” Christmas tree garland in our supply room so I thought that would add to the feeling of grandeur.  A paper crown on a purple pillow emphasized the Kingship of God since we were studying the Divided Kingdom and the End of the Kingdom.

Even though these were not expensive items I can tell you that the children were in awe of the space.  On a side note it occurred to me that the Temple that Solomon built was dripping with gold and precious cloths in a way that left everyone awestruck.  But, in reality, gold and expensive items are actually worthless in comparison to God’s true worth.  Perhaps we adults aren’t all that sophisticated after all.

 

A Holy Attitude

When we sit at the table in this space it is a “set apart” time from the rest of the class period.  At other times we might play games and sing action songs and act out the story. There are many ways to glorify God. But, when we go and sit in our holy space we speak more quietly and we all reflect in awe and reverence about God.

 

A Holy Conversation

This is a 5 minute devotional time that is not limited to the lesson we are studying for the day.  Everything we talk about in this space relates to how special God is.  He is approachable but He is different than us.  In a child’s eyes this space is very special and it is a great launching place to talk about how God is even more special than our idea of precious things.

Each week I try to cover a different aspect of God’s holiness and how this has been shown in Scripture.  This is not the time to tell another Bible story or try to explain complex topics.  I want the children’s minds to be fully on God so I talk about concepts they can easily grasp.  I try my best to use illustrations to depict these things. For instance, the illustrations below are from www.freebibleimages.org

  • The Tabernacle
  • The Temple
  • The Word of God-  We open our Bibles and read a verse about God (or they follow along as I read).

Moses_Tabernacle_JPEG_1024  Solomon_Temple_JPEG_1024

 

New Depths

This experience has brought a new depth to the lessons I’ve been teaching.  The children have really picked up on the fact that sin is not just “bad behaviour” it is a real offence against who God is.  I’ve been amazed at how often the children have referenced God’s holiness as we study other lessons.

  • When we talked about idols being erected and even brought into the temple the children were disgusted.  They understood why King Josiah destoyed idols and places of false worship.  “Don’t those people know how much more special God is than statues?”
  • When we learned about the prophet Jeremiah visiting the potter’s house and hearing God warn about turning away from him the children understood why God was angry.  The kings were not treating him in the way he deserved.
  • We learned about how Jeremiah dictated God’s Message onto a scroll.  As King Jehoiakim listened to the words he cut off pieces of the scroll and threw them into a fire piece by piece. When I mentioned that King Jehoiakim was making a huge mistake one of the children corrected me, “No! the king knew God’s words were special.  He did not make a mistake, he did it on purpose!”
  • Before being led off into Exile the Temple of God was destroyed.  The students in my class were so sad to hear this.  They understood how serious this was to God.

 

 

How About Making Your Own Temporary Tabernacle?

I was blessed with a room large enough to create a separate space but you could create a special space almost anywhere.  Put your “special” items in a basket and lay out the items when it comes time to have your devotional.  After all, this is exactly what was done with The Tabernacle.  It was set up and taken down wherever the Israelites camped.

This Counts at Home, Too?

15083635427_bdaae75c7a_zYears ago I taught a Bible story to a group of children and we began to discuss the concept of kindness.  I wanted the children to understand what kindness really was and how they could practice kindness.

One young boy excitedly gave example after example of ways to show kindness.  “We could take food to someone who was hungry.”   “Carrying groceries for an elderly person at the grocery store would be kindness.”  “We could say kind words.”

After he listed a few examples of kindness I asked, “And how could you show kindness to your sister?

There was a long pause and then, with a horrified expression on his face, he asked, “You mean, this counts at home, too?”

If ever there was an example of “the truth hit home” then this was one!

We must share the Bible with children.  There is nothing that we could say that would have more eternal impact than the words God speaks.  But we cannot be satisfied with only conveying a set of facts or teaching memory verses.  God’s word is meant to be lived!  Children need to learn and understand ways to live out the things they have learnt in every part of their lives.

One helpful way to  help children explore ways to live out their faith is to use a simple method I call Things Matter.  Simple items (things) from around your house can be used to draw out conversation about everyday applications of God’s Word.

Click here for instructions and a 2 1/2 minute “how to” video.  In the video I use two Bible stories as examples: Sodom and Gomorrah and the Building of the Tabernacle.

Obey God’s message! Don’t fool yourselves by just listening to it. If you hear the message and don’t obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror and forget what they look like as soon as they leave. But you must never stop looking at the perfect law that sets you free. God will bless you in everything you do, if you listen and obey, and don’t just hear and forget.    James 1:22-25, CEV

You Git What You Git

Contentment_happy faceI was recently entertaining some children at a church in Texas while their parents were in a meeting.  We were playing a game where picture cards were passed out.  Some of the children began to complain that the cards they had been dealt were not as good as the ones the other children had received.  One child even reached out and took what he considered a “better” card away from a smaller child.

Just as I was about to sit everyone down for a little lecture about fair play and kindness one of the younger children stopped everyone in their tracks by piping up with the perfect reminder in a very thick Texas accent, “You ‘git’ what you ‘git’ so don’t throw a fit.”

Oh, how we all need to be reminded to be content with what we have!  I later learned about a children’s book with the title “You Get What You Get” but an even earlier source might be something Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-12…

…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

This is certainly not just a lesson for children. How often do we say things like:

  • If only I had a classroom I could be a good teacher.
  • I wish those other people would start teaching.
  • Why don’t my church leaders ever thank me?
  • What!  Only one child came today?  Why can’t I have a big class like that other church?

It is a lesson for me.  “I ‘git’ what I ‘git’ so I won’t throw a fit!”

Helping Children Understand Contentment

Contentment has long been something that has eluded mankind.  The Israelites certainly dealt with this after they left the “comforts” of Egypt and followed Moses into the wilderness.

In teaching the story of the Bronze Snake on a Pole I love to help the children role-play various situations where they must be content with what they have.  My favourite scenario is a birthday party.  We pretend that we are at a birthday party opening presents.  I take the first turn and act out being “discontent” by pretending to open a gift from my grandmother and saying “Oh, no!  I didn’t want the doll with the PINK dress.  I wanted the one with the PURPLE dress.”  (I lose all pride when I teach so I add a lot of drama.  The children love it.)

We then discuss how the grandmother might feel.  I carry on the discussion talking about how some little girls might not even have a birthday gift.    After discussing this I act out the scene again modelling contentment and thanking my grandmother for the gift.  Usually all of the children want to take a turn at being the one opening a gift.

It is my prayer that the children I teach will learn to apply this lesson of contentment to other life situations just as the little boy I told you about.  This is such an important life lesson.  No matter where they go and what they do in life the children will “git what they git”.